Archive for October, 2009

Tips on making your own wedding cake

Monday, October 26th, 2009

One of the hardest things about planning a wedding is trying to achieve the wedding of your dreams on a budget. At Delicious Cake Design, we are very mindful of this and aim to provide couples with a wedding cake that meets their budget as well as their design requirements. There are several things we can do to help this process, such as opting for flowers that are simpler to make, providing extra undecorated cutting cakes, or simplifying designs so they are still stunning but less time consuming to create.

Making your own wedding cake requires attention to detail and a steady hand

Making your own wedding cake requires attention to detail and a steady hand

But what if you have a budget that won’t buy even a basic wedding cake from a professional cake maker? Some brides (and grooms!) in this situation make their own wedding cake to save money. This can be a good idea, but there are many things to take into consideration before coming to a decision.

Firstly, do you have the time? Bear in mind that you will most likely still be putting finishing touches on the cake during the week leading up to the big day, and if you are not making a fruit cake and are opting instead for sponge or chocolate, the cake (or cakes) will all have to be baked no earlier than 3 days before the wedding. This gives you only 2 days to decorate the cake. With all the other things you will have to do that close to the wedding, will you have time to spend a whole day baking cakes, and up to a whole day (or more!) decorating? Not forgetting as well you will have to put time aside to go and buy all the ingredients and source all the decorative elements, which is not an easy task.

And more importantly, do you want to put up with the stress of making and decorating a cake when you’re trying to fit in dress rehearsals, manicures, last minute dress alterations, guests arriving from afar, and all the other bits and pieces that tend to pile up in the week before a wedding?

Do you have the necessary skills to make a wedding cake? At the very least you should have some competency in baking. An eye for detail and design plus a steady hand would be advantageous as well. If you are the kind of person that considers cooking to be making toast, which you somehow always seems to burn, perhaps it is not a good idea to take the risk!

If you do decide to take the plunge and make your own wedding cake, preparation is the key. I would recommend doing some research as far in advance as you can. There are many good books out there that give clear, step by step instructions on covering and decorating cakes. If possible, make at least one practice cake that you have baked yourself and covered and decorated. The last thing you want is to try it for the first time the day before your wedding and find yourself with a lopsided cake that has pleats and folds in the icing when it’s too late to do anything about it!

Although mass produced rolled fondant (also known as sugarpaste or regal ice) doesn’t taste anywhere near as good as the homemade kind, rolled fondant can be very tricky to make especially for first timers. It might be best to stick to the store bought variety in this instance.  Avoid the kind you get in supermarkets if possible as they are very difficult to work with and taste awful. Specialty cake decorating shops sell much better brands which taste better and are less finicky to use.

Covering a cake with rolled fondant can be very difficult for beginners, especially achieving a smooth, perfect finish. One of the most common questions I get asked is “How do I get the pleats/folds out of the icing when I cover the cake?”. This takes quite a lot of practice! So in the months leading up to the wedding, practice covering the back of cake tins until you get it right, then try it out on a real cake. Covering a real cake is a very different experience to covering a tin as you will have crumbs and imperfect surfaces to deal with.

Be mindful of food safety and hygiene in the kitchen. You don’t want to end up giving your guests food poisoning, or end up with grains of last night’s supper in the cake.

If you know someone who would be willing to take on the task of making your wedding cake (mothers are often a good source for this!), and who you trust to produce a result that you will be happy with, then an alternative is to ask this person to make the cake. You can even suggest they make the cake as a wedding gift.  Be understanding if they say no, as making a wedding cake is a huge responsibility which they may be reluctant to take on.

And of course, don’t be afraid to get a quote from a professional source, such as Delicious Cake Design. I aim to be as accommodating as possible in trying to fit your budget and you may be surprised at what you can get for your money!

Good luck, and happy baking!

The Super Busy Wedding Cake Weekend

Monday, October 5th, 2009

What a hectic couple of weeks it’s been! I had to make two 3-tier wedding cakes for delivery on the weekend, which kept me super busy and super stressed! Having never had to deliver 2 wedding cakes in one weekend before, it was quite an experience. Sleeping and eating became a thing of the past. I’ve never been so exhausted and my feet, back and legs were very very sore from being on my feet so much. Thankfully the two weddings were not on the same day, one was on Saturday and the other on Sunday. I definitely would not accept two orders for wedding cakes that were to be delivered on the same day. Celebration cakes, maybe, but not 3-tier wedding cakes!

CAKE 1: Light ivory 3-tier wedding cake with floral spray of red tinged roses, sugar leaves and bear grass

CAKE 1: Light ivory 3-tier wedding cake with floral spray of red tinged roses, sugar leaves and bear grass

The first wedding cake was quite large with 8inch, 10inch and 12inch sized tiers, plus an extra cutting cake. The cakes had burgundy ribbon at the bases. The top tier had a floral spray consisting of 3 large light ivory roses, sugar leaf branches, and bear grass accents.

It was a Chinese wedding, so the bride and groom did not want white flowers as white flowers are traditionally used for Chinese funerals. The colour red is considered lucky in Chinese tradition, so they wanted some tinges of red on the roses. I originally tried lightly dusting the centre of the roses, but the intensity of the colour was lacking and looked more orange than red. Adding more petal dust ended up making them look too red rather than red tinged (it reminded me of Alice in Wonderland, painting the roses red!). So I re-made the roses and as I made each centre petal, I hand painted the edges of it with red petal dust using a very fine paint brush dipped in water to make the colour more intense . This worked out much better, but was very time consuming.

For the leaves I used some purple coloured petal dust to give the edges some darkness and definition, then over dusted with green petal dust.

CAKE 2: White wedding cake with pearl beads at bases and round posy of white roses

CAKE 2: White 3-tier wedding cake with pearl beads at bases and round posy of white roses

The second cake was smaller with 6inch, 8inch and 10inch cakes with pearl beads of different sizes on wires at the bases. It was quite a challenge finding those beads! But I managed to find them at a wholesale wedding warehouse outside of London.

This cake had a round posy of medium sized white roses for the top tier with no leaves or bear grass accents. This was more straight forward than the other floral spray, but also time consuming as it required a lot more roses! I spent several nights sitting at my work bench making rose after rose after rose. I then dusted the centre of each rose with a little yellow petal dust to give each flower some warmth and depth. It was very nerve wracking arranging the posy as I roll the flower paste quite thinly, so the roses are very delicate and fragile and break very easily.

All the cakes were made of my specialty butter cake. Many people request sponge cakes, but I get them to try my buttercake and they usually end up choosing it which is good as it is a much stronger cake to work with. Baking so many cakes was quite a challenge! It made me very grateful for my wonderful new KitchenAid Artisan stand mixer.

Delivery of the first cake was not fun. A friend kindly agreed to drive me to both venues as my other half was away for the weekend, but her car was very small. We used blankets and cushions to surround some of the cake boxes and minimise movement in the car boot. Driving was slow and excruciating with one cake tier balanced on my lap while I held the top tier in my hands and held my breath at every turn and pothole. The venue didn’t have parking or a driveway, so we had to park on a street nearby and walk each tier over. FYI, 10 and 12 inch cakes are HEAVY!!! I assembled the cake and floral spray at the venue, with my emergency repair kit and spare sugar roses and leaves on hand in case of disaster. Amazingly, these things were not needed.

Delivery of the second cake was surprisingly easy, because the cakes were smaller and there were only 3 instead of 4 cakes to transport. The venue also had parking right out the front – yay! I again assembled the floral spray at the venue, which was very nerve wracking given the fragility of the flowers, and again didn’t need to use my emergency repair kit. A miracle! Though I nearly had a small heart attack when the event staff then decided to pick up and move the entire cake display table to the centre of the room. Thankfully the flowers made it intact.

So delivering two 3-tier wedding cakes in one weekend was a very rewarding and challenging experience. But would I want to do it EVERY weekend? No, I like being able to sleep and eat!